As the F1 teams start to pack multiple pairs of pants and socks for the fly-away stage of the F1 calendar, we’d thought it be a good idea to talk to two pundits. And not wanting to be biased, TG spoke to a member from both broadcasters. In the BBC corner we have Eddie Jordan, and in the Sky corner, Damon Hill. Here’s what they had to say on the season so far…
TG: So, have your views on Lewis changed since Monza last week? Is he still going next year?
EJ: “Look, I made a statement that in my opinion there are conversations going on between Lewis and Mercedes, that previously had gone on at Ferrari and indeed Red Bull, but these discussions at Mercedes seemed to be materializing in a reasonable way. I never said he was leaving. I just said that they were in discussions. And still nobody to this day has been able to deny that. And who knows what’s going to happen – I don’t know what’s going to happen. If he does go to Mercedes, one or two things have to happen: either Rosberg moves to McLaren, or Michael [Schumacher] retires. It’s not science, there’s no guarantee that Lewis is leaving McLaren.”
TG: Do you see Rosberg taking that seat if Lewis goes?
EJ: “They are the only two things [Rosberg moves to McLaren/Michael Schumacher retires] from a logical point of view that can happen. If Lewis was to go there someone has to vacate, three drivers doesn’t make a team.”
TG: How do you see the rest of the season playing out?
EJ: “I think we’re at a very crucial stage, McLaren could win four, five races but it depends who wins them. If Jenson was to help the team with Lewis, but is that going to happen if Lewis is leaving? I don’t know. There are a lot of huge permutations and combinations that will make it such an intriguing end of the season, and unfortunately my crystal ball does not extend to the size where I know what’s going to happen. But, look, I think the sensible money should still be on Alonso but with the recent performance of McLaren it’s been spectacular.“
TG: Is consistency going to be the key?
EJ: “Yes, that’s why people are saying Alonso has been the driver of the year. He has because the car has not been good enough and what he’s doing with that car is well beyond the boundaries.”
TG: Are Red Bull out of it?
EJ: “Errrr, I think they don’t have the ultimate speed and they are paying the penalty for a car that handles very well, that responds very well but they have problems.”
TG: It’s been a very interesting and competitive F1 season so far, how do you think the rest of it will go?
DH: “It’s going to get critical now. They’ve had the jockeying for position phase and now it’s starting to filter out and now we’re pairing down to the last few and one of them will become Formula One World Champion 2012.”
TG: Within the teams, do you think anyone has an advantage at the moment?
DH: “No. It’s still – thankfully – undecided, and there’s going to be a bit of luck involved. But the person who consistent – and you have to say at the moment Alonso is looking like the guy who’s managed to navigate his way through the chaos better than anyone else.”
TG: There’s been a number of drivers involved in multiple incidents this year. Do you think that the chaotic aspect should be reigned in?
DH: “It’s definitely been unpredictable, and there’s been a random factor, which I think is good. The teams have struggled to work out exactly what’s been happening, but that’s their job, that’s what it should be like: teams and drivers trying to find the solution to get the best performance. That’s starting to settle down and some teams are starting to get on top of things but even last weekend at Monza, you had Sergio Perez in the Sauber charging their way through the field and setting fastest laps all the way through – this is a great year for Formula One.”
TG: How do you think teams like Sauber are going to progress in the next few years? Do you think the division between teams at the bottom and top of the grid is closing?
DH: “No, I think inevitably you end up with the more established teams who have over the years have proven their credentials. They seem to always come out at the end of the season the strongest teams. Now, you might say that’s unfair but the opportunity is still there for some teams to move themselves up in the rankings and you’ve teams like Red Bull who came from virtually nowhere a few years ago to then go on and win a world championship – so it’s not impossible to overturn the order.”
TG: And what do you think of Mr. Jordan’s remarks about Lewis’ potential move next year?
DH: “I think there’s possibly something to that, it’s an interesting conjecture and it’s got everyone thinking.”
TG: Say, hypothetically, he did go, who would you see filling the McLaren seat?
DH: “That’s a question I’ve not put much thought to because a lot of us are interested in where Lewis might be going. I think that Paul Di Resta might be possible, I’d say that he’s someone who’d fit in that environment well and he’s done a pretty good job this year. But an empty seat at McLaren would be a very coveted situation.”
TG: Who do you see winning the championship this year?
DH: “I’ve been consistent in saying that Alonso is the most-likely champion and nothing has persuaded me otherwise at this point.”